Olive Fruit Fly and Its Abatement

Gardening requires a bit of vigilance to ensure the health of plants, at all stages of their lives. I’ve had my young olive trees for just a handful of months when I recently discovered brown spots on the four olives growing on one of my olive trees. In my mind, I knew it was insect damage (given my previous experience with my pear/quince trees). Searching online, I found information that confirmed that what I had was the result of egg-laying by olive fruit flies (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74112.html).IMG_3089 I will have to remove the fruit from the trees since they’re filled with insect larvae.

I’d searched for ways of killing these flies before they harm my trees become very productive. Most of the techniques involve some type of bait with chemicals, which I did not want.

How To: Further online investigation led me to information that all I need do, as a home gardener with few trees, is to hang containers filled with red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar is supposed to work also, as would red wine) and a few drops of dish soap, and swirl the concoction around to distribute the soap. The sweet smell of the vinegar is the bait, but the soap prevents the flies from getting out of the liquid, thus drowning them (http://frugalliving.about.com/od/doityourself/qt/Rid_Fruit_Flies.htm).IMG_3090

I made two traps so hopefully this will work. Only one of my trees is fruiting right now but since my backyard neighbor has a mature olive tree opposite my young olive trees, I thought it would be good to protect both of my trees. The ingredients for making these traps are easy to find, inexpensive, and relatively “green.”

The traps are as easy to make as shown in this picture. I used empty plastic food containers and some kitchen twine for this small project. When there are a lot of dead flies and the liquid runs low, it will be time to replenish it. I have a few bottles of red wine that I do not like, so it will be awhile before I need to spend any more money to fight these flies. I will need to maintain these traps for the life of these trees, for pennies per week. That’s a bargain, considering the delicious return on this investment!

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